Ecology Wales

During 2015 BSG Ecology provided training and technical support to three Swansea University Master of Science students. This enabled them to complete research on the use of sandy and rocky shore habitats within Swansea Bay by bats. During the project BSG staff gave an initial briefing, assisted in survey design and on transect work, provided equipment and technical support in the use of Analook (for data analysis) and GIS.
Ecologist Rachel Taylor will present a talk to the Welsh Bat Conference at Stackpole, Pembrokeshire, on the subject of BSG Ecology’s Bat Migration Project (2012-2014).   Rachel’s talk is entitled “Bats on the Pembrokeshire Islands and an overview of BSG Ecology’s Bat Migration Project.”
In this article we consider the use of eDNA analysis of water samples to detect great crested newts, and discuss the results of some recent survey work.  Whilst we identify limitations that need to be considered, it is also recognised that the technique provides a useful additional method for detecting great crested newts, and we use it in appropriate circumstances at sites throughout the UK.  The method has been endorsed by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales.
In 2014 we deployed bat detectors on the islands of Skomer, Skokholm and Ramsey, off the west coast of Pembrokeshire, Wales. The islands are between 0.8 km and 2.6km from the mainland. The aims were to increase knowledge of the bat fauna and investigate evidence for migration through the identification of changes in seasonal bat activity. The detectors were set to survey from half an hour before sunset to half an hour after sunrise from spring to autumn, the most active period for bats and the peak migration seasons.
During 2014 BSG Ecology provided training to two Master of Science students at Swansea University in order to help them develop their ornithological field skills.  This enabled them to complete research projects on a species of particular local interest, Dartford warbler.  The partnership was facilitated by the Access to Masters initiative, which is backed by the European Social Fund.  In this short article, Hannah Meinertzhagen summarises the findings of her study, and the benefit she got from partnering with industry professionals.
One of our Principal Ecologists recently presented a talk entitled “An Introduction to Bat Migration” to the Spurn Migration Festival in East Yorkshire. The talk gave details of BSG Ecology’s ongoing research project to look at patterns of bat activity (potentially indicating migration) at coastal sites around England and Wales and, in 2014, on North Sea ferry / freight routes. The event at Spurn is the first of its kind in the UK and this is the second year that it has been held. Matt’s talk was incorporated into a programme of events between 5-7 September that included guided migration watches, sea-watching, bird-ringing demonstrations, moth-trapping and a number of illustrated talks. Matt’s talk provided an introduction to bats and what is known of their migratory behaviour, with a focus on Europe, and also provided a summary of the findings of BSG’s ongoing study.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) testing is a relatively new survey technique that can help determine the presence or absence of great crested newts in ponds. Since this is still a relatively new approach its practical application and limitations for field surveys some uncertainty remains in the ecology sector about how it should be best applied and what its practical limitations might be. This article discusses the potential applications of the process, and our perceptions of its limitations, which should be considered when planning survey work for great crested newt.
Dr Peter Shepherd of BSG Ecology, along with Dr Sandie Sowler and Dr Ian Davidson-Watts, recently delivered an advanced two day training course on the ecology of the four Habitats Directive Annex II bat species resident and breeding in the UK (barbastelle, Bechstein's, lesser horseshoe and greater horseshoe). The course was conceived by Peter in 2013 in response to queries from more experienced bat consultants about advanced-level training to help them develop their knowledge and experience base beyond that covered by existing training courses and day to day work experience.
BSG Ecology has been growing its in-house and associate invertebrate advisory team over the last two years. Our team is led by Dr Jim Fairclough and we have four specialist invertebrate ecologists, and several other staff with more general invertebrate experience. As well as providing advice to clients on planning-related issues, Jim is also a passionate trainer of ecologists and the wider public. In May 2014, Jim was at Withymead Nature Reserve, providing an insight into aquatic life, through a series of classroom and outdoor sessions.